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The urease-catalyzed hydrolysis of urea displays feedback that results in a switch from acid (pH ∼3) to base (pH ∼9) after a controllable period of time (from 10 to >5000 s). Here we show that the spatially distributed reaction can support pH wave fronts propagating with a speed of the order of 0.1-1 mm min-1. The experimental results were reproduced qualitatively in reaction-diffusion simulations including a Michaelis-Menten expression for the urease reaction with a bell-shaped rate-pH dependence. However, this model fails to predict that at lower enzyme concentrations, the unstirred reaction does not always support fronts when the well-stirred reaction still rapidly switches to high pH. © 2012 by the Biophysical Society.

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Biophysical Journal

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